In my life, with the exception of places I stayed while traveling, I’ve had five homes. At the ripe old age of 35, that doesn’t seem like enough. I often find myself sheepishly admitting that I’ve never lived outside of Colorado for any significant amount of time. I’ve traveled the world, for sure, but Colorado has always been my home base. Not always by choice.
I suppose I’m sheepish about it because I am such a traveler–because I come from immigrants from exotic lands–because wanderer is just in my blood. Saying I’ve lived in so few places is an affront to my adventurous spirit. Especially these past few years–mostly because I didn’t really choose it. Had I had my druthers, I would have gone elsewhere. But life kept me here, too often, and sometimes, I really hate that.
I’ve had viable plans to leave in the past. I’ve traveled and scouted out apartments. I’ve started packing at different points. And then, life just sorta unloaded its crap on me. Or I hesitated.
So, five homes.
There was the studio apartment we lived in when I was born–the one that no longer exists–that my Mama got condemned because there was a hole in the bathroom ceiling and rusty fluids dripped on the floor. The one with the loud neighbors–who bothered my Daddy so much, he cut their electricity just to get some peace and quiet. The one at the top of the stairs–where I often greeted my Mama as a baby–when she came home and found me covered in mashed potato’d vomit. Waiting for someone to take care of me after Daddy passed out.
There was the place we moved to, in Westwood, with the front and back yards. The white walls and bullet-riddled picture window in the living room. With the heavy metal pink door and my bedroom with the hot floors. In the summertime, it was so hot, I’d spray water at my fan. And at night, we’d play until the early morning. Where I spent her last days with her, managing medicines and oxygen tanks–calling ambulances.
When I think of home, it’s that one.
There’s my first ever place of my own. The one I shared with best friends–where every night, we cooked and sang–until I decided it was time to leave–only to come home and then move back home to care for her.
There’s the studio on race that felt like an exhale with its cheery, bohemian palette, its amazing kitchen, and beautiful view. Where Cleo licked walls and ice skated. Where I finally had a book nook. Where it always smelled like fabric softener. Where we broke each other down and tried to think through the noise. Where I put myself back together again.
And then there’s here…the bigger place with the white walls that felt like I was finally a grown-up–that maybe the work sorta paid off–where I settled because it seemed good enough. Where we grew gardens with heirlooms and took pictures of Fogg. Where we almost burned to the ground. Where I sat on rooftops and took photos of sunsets. Where I scraped paint off a rental car. Where Cleo sat in exile and rubbed her butt on every bit of carpet. Where I swam and watched the hot boys run Cheesman. Where love found me and broke me–again and again. Where rock bottom hit and plans fell through. Where he sat and talked to me all night long. Where I found family again. Where I accumulated things and numbed my way through. Where I was sick and recuperated. Where I forgave and moved on. Where my sweet girl had seizures and withered away.
And life continued. As it always does.
We sign our new lease tomorrow. One more year, here. From the moment I landed here, I never intended to stay. I’ve probably planned exits for this place a few hundred times and cursed every part of this place. I’ve even paid application fees. Still here.
Some part of me thinks it’s all part of some massive lesson I need to learn–that, perhaps, this safe, it’ll do place is what I most needed to heal. I still don’t quite get it, and maybe that’s why I’m still here.
Change is coming. It is. And maybe this will be the last year I’m here. Or maybe not.
I hope it’s the former.
But, for now, I’ve decided to make this place home. To fill this place with joy instead of ghosts. To rearrange the furniture and craft my little heart out and finally print out all the photos. And get rid of all the junk clogging up its spaces. To finally accept that–this place that I never intended to be my home IS my home. That it’s been good to me and deserves to have inhabitants that respect it–if not love it.
Just because something isn’t your first choice, doesn’t mean you have to be miserable with it. It’s taken me a long time to accept this choice I made so long ago was the best for me at the time, and it’s time to move on from my moving on.